One of the hundred books a year I read:

One of the hundred books a year I read:

L.F. Robertson Two Lost Boys

Two Lost Boys

L.F. Robertson

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Two brothers sit in prison for the torture and rape of three women and the murder of two of them. The third victim escaped, went to the police, and testified against them. Emory is serving life without parole and Andy is on death row. Why did they get different sentences?

Fifteen years after the crime, attorney Janet Moodie reluctantly agrees to meet Andy despite having sworn off death penalty cases after years of work and personal tragedy. But having met her client, she digs in to find a reason to file an appeal strong enough to get her client off of death row.

While technically a mystery being unraveled, this should be considered a legal procedural more than a legal thriller. No one doubts that Andy was involved in a despicable crime (both brothers confessed), so it’s hard to develop any sympathy for his plight. The only question is whether his original lawyer missed something that could have avoided the death sentence.

As the lawyer digs into Andy’s upbringing to identifying mitigating circumstances, she uncovers much of what you would expect—lots of bad influences and so many missed opportunities to help stop a child from becoming a criminal. The failures of previous attorneys and the imbalance of the justice system comes clear as well. And ever so slowly, the mystery of why the third victim was able to escape, the exact fates of the other two victims, and other crimes are uncovered.

The author focuses heavily on the procedural part of the appeals process—hearings, reports, prison visits, and interviews with people who knew the brothers. The pace reads much like a journal over the year—the step by step of building an appeal. And the atmosphere reflects the glacial pace and indifferent result of their work (does moving someone from death row to life in prison in a state that never executes anyone accomplish anything of substance?).

I think most people will not find the book entertaining enough to read, but, despite all of the negative atmosphere, I did enjoy the authors methodical style and descriptions and the glimpse inside a legal system without the Perry Mason moments. Plenty of good legal thriller authors out there, but this gives you a glimpse into the messiness that is our judicial system.

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